Access to Public Information
Rob Evans v. Information Commissioner
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The Court of Liquidation and Judgment held that the Paraguayan Constitution provides that people have the right to petition governmental authorities for information as well as the right to be provided with that information, unless the authority timely responds with an exception specifically provided for by the American Convention on Human Rights and related regional jurisprudence.
This analysis was contributed by Right2Info.org.
Under the sponsorship of Lawyers for the Defense of the People, Elizabeth Flores Negri brought an action against the Rectorship of the National University of Asunción, a public university, seeking a copy of certain Scholarship Regulations approved by Resolution no. 71’00’2005 – act no. 5 of 9 March 2005. The Rectorship denied the request on technical grounds, alleging that the document was unsigned and not submitted in the proper format, but eventually provided the information (pg. 291). Negri and the Lawyers challenged the initial refusal by alleging that it violated their right to petition authorities and gain access to public sources of information.
The Court noted that the subsequent publishing of the information did not moot Negri’s case. As to the merits, the Court concluded (1) that Article 40 of the Constitution provides every person with the right to petition authorities for information, and that those authorities must respond within a specific time frame according to the methods prescribed by the government; and (2) that Article 28 of the Constitution establishes the right of the people to receive truthful, responsible and unbiased information, and also that public information sources are free for all persons. The Court relied in part on Article 13 of the American Convention of Human Rights, which establishes freedom of thought and expression, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights 2006 decision in Claude Reyes v. Chile, which states that Article 13 provides for a right to receive information, and the affirmative obligation of the state to provide it to a requester or to respond by providing a suitable justification for non-disclosure.
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